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Afghanistan 34, America 20, Mr. Walker 9, Iraq 7, Washington 7, United States 6, Robert Gates 5, Colombia 5, U.s. 5, Mcconnell 4, Portman 4, Panama 4, Mr. Hakki 4, Barack Obama 3, Mississippi 3, West Virginia 3, Becky 3, Bush 3, Mike Mullen 3, Conrad 2,
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  CSPAN    Capital News Today    News/Business. News.  

    June 30, 2011
    11:00 - 1:59am EDT  

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>> thank you. i am glad to have given you the opportunity to respond. obviously what this committee is concerned about is that -- is their ongoing efforts to have both internal and external reviews and through the monitor and other safeguards we want to be sure that, as i said earlier, this incredible expenditure of taxpayer funds is being properly spent given where we are in afghanistan and is all the more important. let's go to this specific project, a free could, that you discussed with the chair. the 64-mile highway, it will reach $776 million. the cost overruns have not exceeded 100%.
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i do not know if that is accurate or not. that is the way i read the numbers. in your testimony, you attributing this to the security environment. you responded to this shares questions about the security environment. what is the cost overrun excluding security costs. >> let me clarify it in little bit. that was our estimate we thought at the time it would cost to build that road. the bids that came in and the firm that won the contract came in at $85 million to $86 million. that was the starting point for us of the construction, not counting security for the construction management.
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from our perspective, the construction starting point is about $85 million to $86 million. when you include security and the construction management, if it was about $107 million. the $85 million to $86 million bid by the construction firm, the job will come in basically a that price. the primary driver these costs are security. it has grown throughout the process. it grew to such a point -- we are not in the security business and we saw that the security costs continue to grow as a result of the security situation. last year, in one of the modifications to the contract, without prodding from usaid, by
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our own volition, we told usaid that we would forgo profits on security moving forward from last year. we were entitled to it. we voluntarily decide to go off -- to forgo $4 million in we're not interested in making a profit in that of the situation. >> my time is running out here. if you could provide the subcommittee with the cost overrun data, that would be helpful. you said the primary driver these costs was security related. i'm interested in knowing which of those costs were not security-related. if you could give us the data on cost overruns that are not security related -- if there are none, we want to hear that.
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if there are some, we want to hear them and why. because of the basis of the contract being on a cost plus basis there would be profitable we want to know what those cost overruns are. >> exactly how many different context as your company have in afghanistan, mr. walker?
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>> the largest one is iqc contractor that we hold. >> which is for all the highways? all the roads? >> not all the roads. under the irp contract, task orders -- i believe we have done four roads, if i am not mistaken. >> are there other types of projects that your company is doing? >> we have small projects were a subcontractor to some other firms, non-infrastructure -- we also have had a couple of small projects, but i do not think we have had any current and we have had a handful of those. >> mr. hakki, you indicated most of the work you have done has been under the aegis of working with the army corps for the military as it relates to structures of the military police, the afghan national army, or the united states military. >> correct. >> have you done any projects that would be considered civilian infrastructure projects? electrical plants, health centers? schools? anything of that nature? >> no, we have not. >> let's talk about oversight. i was shocked in your testimony that you said in nine years you
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have had one meeting with the corps of engineers. how often is -- >> i was talking about the partnering, not normal regular meetings. >> partnering, like planning meetings? >> partnering, planning meetings where we have top executives from both end users where they meet for a whole day or perhaps two days. >> and sustainability? >> and sustainability prefer that we have had only one in afghanistan. but as far as regular meetings with clients, we have those regularly. >> i understand. what about oversight on your end? mr. walker, how often does --
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>> they definitely come in. one of these restrictions, research and for being able to move in the country, i have done quite a number of personnel who want to get out more than they are allowed to do. they do come out to the road. they're forced to travel under very restrictive security restrictions. they do get out to the road. >> what about the contract officers? do you all had very much contact with course? you're one of you? >> yes, we do. our projects are a lot different than louis berger project because of our projects are all inside the wire, inside the perimeter of the base,
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where most of the time the corps officers are there. >> do you think the corps is doing better job of oversight and then four or five years ago? >> yes, over the last nine years we have definitely seen improvement in all aspects. including the government turn over that you have just mentioned. most of them are now on one- year rotations. we use to see people in 2003 on 60 days, 90-day rotations. now they're getting into one year. i think there is still room for improvement, that they can still increase that, but there is definitely improvement. >> let's talk about bribes. i spent some time in afghanistan. i am hopeful that either one of you will test us here at not acknowledge that bribes have been an essential part of us doing business in afghanistan,
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regardless of what we are doing. what can you tell the committee about bribes in the bribes that have been paid at various places and levels, whether it is under the aegis of security or other services that are needed by local folks that are used to getting their piece of the pie? >> i can tell you, we do not have any part of that whatsoever. we have a very strict company policy against bribes, and we'd just do not participate in that. on several locations, it costs us delays. we have had to suffer because we did not agree to play that game. but we really do not. >> mr. walker? >> we have seen no evidence of our security personnel providing bribes.
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the casualties that we're taking would indicate that that is not something that we sponsor or that our security provides. >> i assume as the security costs went way up, the casualties went down? the casualties have remained at the same level even though security was increased in dramatic fashion? >> we have had -- for example, two weeks ago, two of our security personnel were kidnapped and taken to a local village and they executed them. whether that happens two weeks ago or whether it might happen 30 days from now, we have to maintain a level of security. in ramping up the security, as far as those unknowns, we don't know what we may have prevented by adding better security footprint. what we do with our security profile is to create a security bubble and make that as airtight as possible so that the
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work can occur. when you work on from that bubble, you still have and the filtration -- and infiltration to play at in the case of the two gentlemen that were kidnapped, they were on their way home and were kidnapped and executed. we have to maintain the level to allow us to get our work done. around three to four weeks ago, you're probably aware of the attack that occurred north of the road in which 36 construction workers were killed. they were trying to use a lower level of security, as i understand it. the result was they could not withstand a serious assault. so how much is our security footprints deterrent from a serious assault like that? i do not know if we can answer that question. >> you cannot prove what you can prevent. i do not think either one of you would say that bribing is not a serious issue in afghanistan, right?
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you're not going to tell me that? >> it is definitely a serious issue. it happens on a daily basis. we get threatened. we get calls to give the bride, and if we do not, we face the consequences. like i said, we have been forced to suck it up and delay delivery, delayed normal procedures with the government simply because we are not playing the game. we are refusing to succumb to that. >> right. do you think we should have built this road, mr. walker? >> a couple of years ago a reporter for "the wall street journal," asked about a highway we constructed that has been under attack. he said it is under such an attack, was it worth building it in the first place?
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i said to him that they are attacking it because it is important. the question is not should we have built it or not build it, but is there a different way of building it that would get it done quicker or lower the casualty -- all with the security profile? again, when we started the road, we were at one level, and 8 advanced. we build a road under the first contract we had, and we knew that was going to be bad from day one. we got together with the military and we embedded cells with them. we had a battalion around us and they did the work. we were surrounded by a battalion.
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there were no casualties. it was taliban territory it from day one that the u.s. came into -- >> why didn't you do the same thing on this road? >> our experience working on roads in the area indicated that it was not like -- >> once you figured out it was, why didn't you go back to the drawing board and do what you had done in the previous incident? >> senator, i think that is a great question, and my understanding with this hearing is getting to the lessons learned. going back to my opening statement, where i said we cannot just look at the metric of scope schedule budget, there comes a time when we probably should have stepped back and said, we have to change the
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scope, because we need to get the road and, but maybe there's a different way of getting it done. what ended up happening is we all went into a reactive mode. we had the security situation and had to increase the security of footprint to prevent that particular situation from happening again. from the lessons learned, we had to recognize how the security environment can change relatively quickly in the contingency environment like afghanistan. >> well, it is sad to me that we're just now talking about a lesson learned, because that lesson was learned many times in iraq, where the security environment changes and billions of dollars worth of investment was blown to smithereens because the security environment changed. i guess what i would say is that it seems this is a long, long time that we have had lessons learned. it is so frustrating -- let me ask this last question, because my time is up.
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who is the person that you would see, mr. walker, that could have in this whole enterprise of building a highway, who is the person who should be held accountable for not changing the way i was being built in light of the security environment -- the way the highway was being built in light of the security environment changing, not within your company but within the government part of this, military or state department? who is the person who should said, "we have got to go back and do this differently"? >> i do not know if there is any one person, but it is important that we make sure that communication between the military, the client, ourselves is always at its best. >> who can i blame? >> who can you blame? >> who can i blame for not changing it sooner. but can the american people look to to hold accountable for pouring tens upon tens upon millions of dollars into
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security not really sure where the money has ended up? who is it that i should ask to come in front of this committee to talk to about it? >> i am reasonably confident that we have maintained controls over the money that has gone to security. >> i should not have added that. i'm wanting to know who is the person -- if there isn't a person, that is the problem -- who is the person i should call to the committee, at your tax dollars that they saw getting out of control and said, "stop, we are putting way to much money into this project" -- who is that person? >> i guess i would have to sit there is not one person that could be held to that standard. it is incumbent upon all of us to look if there is a different way -- >> if that happens with all of us, that means none of us, because we do not know who hold accountable and we have to figure that out.
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there has to be somebody in that organization who has primary responsibility and accountability for the projects at they are not sustained and end up costing way more that they should have cost and not achieving the objectives of the original project. thank you very much. senator portman. >> 3 questions. i would appreciate it if we could go through this quickly, because there is another panel right behind you that is already here with us. to mr. walker, giving you a chance to respond, you talked about the high weig -- highway under discussion today, and the security situation and the cost overruns. let me give you a chance to respond to a report. this comes from "the new york times" back in may. "despite the expense stretch of highway completed just six
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months ago, it is already falling apart and remains treacherous." number one, do you agree that parts of the highway you have already constructed is deteriorating? if so, is your firm paying for repairs to the road, or is it usaid and the taxpayer picking up the tab? >> i absolutely disagree with the reporter's assessment. the reporter was referring to one particular crack on the road. if you have the photograph that i included with the opening statement and had it with you, you can look at it later, on the right-hand side of the photograph, you will see whether crack is. you'll also see a fault line that runs down the mountain. the crack was a result not of workmanship but of that fault. whether it is colorado, where i live, west virginia,
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afghanistan, mountains move. i spoke to a geotechnical engineer who look at it, and it was a fault. >> will pay for the repair? >> in the case of a fault, it is maintenance repair. there is always an issue of equality. we had a contractor pay for that when it is their responsibility. but when a mountain moves, it is not the responsibility of the contractor. it is a maintenance function. >> to both mr. walker and mr. hakki -- we're not going to leave you out totally here. after all, you have a degree
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from ohio university. >> i was hoping he would mention that. >> yeah, we are proud of that. let's talk about afghanistan first. as i said in my opening statement, this is a policy of a administration and i support it. buy afghan products, build afghan capacity. you address this a little bit in your opening statement with regard to the 3000 students you said graduated from a training course, and you say you have local firms engaged in retraining efforts. i would ask you both, how do we get afghans engaged in the sustainability i talked about in my opening statement? this road, the next time there is a crack and you all are gone and we begin our withdrawal, who is going to fix it? can they afford it? do they have the technological
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capacity to do it? i would just like to hear from 1st, mr. hakki quickly, what are you doing exactly to ensure that there will be this ongoing support by retraining and developing this expertise, what are the challenges you see by this stated policy, the afghan first policy, and do you see any unintended consequences from that? i think mr. walker alluded to some of those earlier. if you could respond to that, mr. hakki. >> yes, senator portman. the afghan first program is not something we are very familiar with. that is limited to afghan companies. we know is there and has been fairly successful, but i really cannot comment on that, because we have not really participated in that. that doesn't mean -- >> but the policy is to have contractors like you hire afghans. afghan companies, i believe, not us. >> the afghan first program is limited to afghan companies, if i am not mistaken.
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that doesn't mean we are excluding the afghans from our projects. like i said, we hire a lot of afghans in our projects, we train them -- >> but you do it just because it is a good idea and not because there is any direction in terms of the policy? >> correct. there is a clause in our contract that encourages engagement local labor and local companies, but it is not a requirement. we have taken that way over -- >> he would not have to do any hiring of afghan -- >> can actually speaking, at no -- contractually speaking, no. >> that is interesting. >> the training center is that this is completely out of pocket. there was no government funding with the training center we
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developed. it was completely out of pocket, and we thought it was a great idea because it addresses senator mccaskill's concern with sustainability. the best way to sustain these projects after we leave afghanistan will be the training and education. the way we did is simple. we hired these students, believe it or not. we had to pay them like a daily allowance. we had to transport them and we had to give them, actually, like food while they are there. it is really peanuts. the costs were very little compared to the overall reconstruction process. in two-three weeks, we would graduate them with a simple -- maybe i can introduce this as part of the record is possible -- if it is possible -- but it is a simple certificate that states that this individual has been trained for two-three weeks on a specific skill. it believes -- it really doesn't cost much, but it means the world to this individual, because it provides them security and a skill and a job he can use long after we leave.
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that is why it has been his successful, this whole program, for us. >> there must be some disconnect here between the work you have done, which sounds like successful in terms of moving toward not just using afghan subcontractors and labor, but also paying them for the future, and what my understanding was, which is that it shouldn't be something that is discretionary, but rather, part of a policy. we'll talk more with the government panel about that. mr. walker, any thoughts? >> yes. under the was bircher auspices, we have a program where a 1500 kilometers of road are under active me to then sprayed with in developing capability of afghan firms and afghan employees -- under active
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maintenance. we have been developing a capability of afghan friends and afghan employees for years now. the deputy task force manager it is an afghan engineer. he can take that program over in another six months or maybe a year. the important point about that is that sustainability means funding. we have worked with the afghan government and the minister of public works and finance to establish a framework for road authority as well as a road find it. the minister of finance indicated he feels it is very important in that roads can be funded, maintenance of roads can be found, through fuel taxes, something along those lines. this issue is not president
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karzai's desk on the decision of whether or not -- is now on president karzai's test on the decision on whether or not it goes to public works or presidential authority. having some foresight into will these roads be able to be maintained, i believe the answer is yes. the crack we talked about from the fault is being repaired by afghans under that task order, that maintenance task order. i think it is a real example of sustainable success in looking at sustainability and protecting the investment in the u.s. has made for roads. >> if i could have just one more quick question, and one important to get on the record. it has to do with it, in essence, what the chair asked earlier about, multiple subcontractors and gao has raised concern about this, use of multiple tiers of subcontractors. they talk about concerns over project management, bedding,
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cost-control. i will focus on what area, what kind of contract. it seems we are creating the long economic incentives with the multimillion-dollar contracts are structured as cost-plus contracts. in that case, subcontractors earn more when it is up contractors spend more. -- when the subcontractor is spent more. he will be earning more when they spend more, rather than creating incentives for efficiency. other than having subcontractors -- subcontractors would profit from that waste at any level. do you think we ought to change it? should we use the contracts more widely, and why would that be feasible in these reconstruction efforts? what kind of projects would
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those work best on? if you think we should not move to a fixed cost contracts, why not? >> 95% of our contracts are fixed-price. we have a little subcontractors on them, because we tend to perform the majority of the work. of the contracts and afghanistan, only one has been cost-plus. all the others had been fixed price, competitively bid -- >> fixed price for subcontracts -- >> fixed price for us. >> is that true outside the compound? >> working outside the wire is extraordinarily difficult to do with fixed-price contracts. so many unknowns when you are dealing with minefields on either side of the road you are
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working on. we have tried to combine fixed price and cost-plus. we have created a contract modality or we have fixed unit prices so the only thing would be big quantities. an example would be that on at the road, it would cost $4.40 per cubic meter for excavation. that holds, and if it costs more than that, the unit price does not change. what changes are quantities. the quantities are monitored every day, every dump truck, to make sure that however many cubic meters are pulled out of a particular sector or in fact accounted for. we tried as best we can add to balance aspects of at fixed prices as well as cost-plus. >> more opportunities at the subcontractor level? >> it is a smaller contract that is defined -- that is the key, if you can define what the
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work is -- then it is certainly possible. >> thank you. one final thing i want to say. just as we're concerned with the safety and security of our troops, for your employees and subcontractors, we wish them well. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you both for being here. we appreciate it, and we will follow up with we get additional questions. i want to second senator portman's -- while our job is to oversee the money being spent, make no mistake, the people on these contracts are in as much danger as our military, and we wish them well, and certainly mourn the loss of those who work on reconstruction projects for our government as well as more and a loss of our soldiers whose life and limb in theater.
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we want to pass that led to both of you. thank you for being here. >> thank you, senator. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] >> now available, c-span's congressional directory. inside, new and returning house and senate members with contact information, including twitter dresses, district maps, and committee assignments. order online ad c-span.org/shop. >> next, senate majority leader
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harry reid canceled the senate july 4 recess next week. he said senators will stay to continue negotiations on increasing the the ceiling. he made the announcement one day after president obama criticized lawmakers for their work schedule. also, senate republicans boycotted a committee meeting on free trade agreements with south korea, colombia, and panama. they disagreed with the inclusion of a program with aid workers who lost their jobs due to outsourcing. the negotiations on the free trade agreement had become "not just" so they decided to block them. and then outgoing secretary robert gates's outgoing ceremony. he is the first defense secretary to serve both the republican and democratic president. all of this is next on c-span.
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>> nasa administrator charles bolden speaks with the national press club tomorrow. >> this is the day fourth of july weekend. we will visit the smithsonian museum of natural history. former first lady laura bush and overtime and the white house, and her more spoken from the heart pinned in a panel including former clinton brusca for terry -- former clinton press secretary. >> senate majority leader harry reid announced today that the
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senate will council in its budget will cancel its july 4 -- will cancel its july 4 break. he spoke for about 15 minutes. >> i announced this morning that we would be in session next week. what we have to do is too important not to be here and try to resolve what needs to be done. we really have no time to waste. we know the most important issue facing the country today is reaching an agreement of our deficit. we need to work out some arrangement quickly before the markets start to react and american families start to feel the consequences. i think it is important to note, as i have on a number of occasions, that john mccain's
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chief economic adviser is now working in commerce at moody's. he said in the last few days that we have to work out something soon. he talks about july. we cannot wait until august. july will be here in just a few days. we have to hold a series of meetings. next week, we will -- on tuesday, when we get back, i'll have senator conrad who has worked very hard with the people on the budget committee come up with a way to move forward on a budget. i will meet with him on tuesday. on wednesday, we will have another caucus. it will be to have the administration come. we are confident the they will be able to be here. or we will go there.
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-- we are confident that they will be able to be here. or we will go there. we need to stay on top of this here and these big issues are resolved by people leaving and discussing things. i have had in number of senators quietly said to me, "do we really have to be? we really have to be here. if one is not here then someone else is not here. we do not want to think that what we're doing here is something that just a few of us can do. the whole senate has to be involved. the main obstacle -- i want to be very clear -- to finding common ground is republicans stubborn insistence on protecting taxpayer-funded
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giveaways to corporations and individuals who do not need them. how many of you heard on the radio today -- maybe it was on tv -- in new york, someone went to an atm machine and left their receipt. in the receipt, he withdrew $400. it cost him $4 to do that. he still had in his account $100 million. these the kind of people that should be paying their fair share. we are asking people who are struggling on a day-to-day basis and we are asking these people with huge amounts of money to not cope with the problems we have. we democrats know we have to
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work towards a balanced budget. we have to reduce our deficit. we know that. but we need help. it should not be just a burden on middle-class americans. the most pressing issue facing us is forging a bipartisan deal be can only do it on a bar partisan basis. -- a bipartisan deal. we can only do it on a bipartisan basis. >> senate republican colleagues came to the floor a few minutes ago and was very critical of the president's conference yesterday. he used a very harsh language describing what the president did yesterday and question what he had to say. what america -- what the president had to say to america yesterday's very important. this august 2 deadline on the debt ceiling is a very serious. we're talking about the possibility that the united states will default for the first time in its history, at a
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time when countries around the world are in default and in crisis as a result of it. we are in the midst of a recovery from a recession been playing games with this august 2 deadline in dangers this recovery. it looks like we may not meet our responsibility and extend this ceiling. interest-rate will go up. that is the worst thing that we could ask for in times of recovery. when the president expresses a sense of urgency, like he did yesterday, that we role of our sleeves and get this done, not at the last minute, but as soon as possible, i think he is delivering a message that everybody ought to hear. the president said yesterday that revenues should be part of this conversation. i even let congressman can explain why he walked away from the bipartisan budget negotiations. what was reported in the press was that he did not want to talk about revenue. he threw that halted over to
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john boehner. if you do not talk about revenues, we will not have a serious conversation about dealing with this debt deficit. there are ample opportunities for us to save money in our tax code. subsidies and they're going to american businesses to ship jobs overseas should end immediately. the savings will not only help us in our deficit, but encourage companies to stay in america and employ it americans with good paying jobs. and the listening the subsidies we have gone through, from yachts to thoroughbred horses to jetliners to commercial entities -- all of these things were special favors in that tax code protecting -- tax code. protecting them is not protecting america. we have to step toward and raise this issue of revenue. i have been involved in this for a long time. i will tell you that this is a moment of truth. we have to get this done and done quickly. otherwise, the economy will suffer.
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>> thank you, leaders. it looks like we will be here in the capital for the fourth of july break. but it is time for serious negotiation. we do not need any extra fireworks going off here on capitol hill. a lot of this plan to be with their families back home next week. but that is a small sacrifice compared to what is at stake if you do not reach an agreement to avoid the default. the clock is ticking on a deal. it is crunch time. we all know that raising the debt ceiling is not popular and no one side wants to own it by themselves fear and so we will have to hold hands and do this together idle some -- i saw senator mcconnell on the floor everything and telling the president that he dropped everything and come to the floor to meet with him. the president's availability has never been questioned. we do not need any more stunts.
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we need a willingness from both sides to give a little can we have given a lot. the vice-president has said more than $1 billion in cuts have already been identified. that will put as far down the road towards an agreement. the question is how to make up the rest. leader mcconnell has gone out on a limb and said that there can absolutely not be any revenues in the deal. it seems like leader mcconnell is willing to take the economy for the sake of protecting tax breaks for oil companies, corporate jets. just today, senator corn, a member of the republican leadership said, "i think the president's on fiscal commission pointed out that there's a lot of money used in tax expenditures. i think we need to get them all out on the table and look at them and see which ones make sense." those are his words, not ours. senator alexander, another member of the leadership, said
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"it is a good time to take a hard look at unwarranted tax breaks." again, not one of us. another member of the republican leadership. it seems that senator mcconnell has ventured out on a limb and in many in his own caucus are sawing it off been as soon as he joins his party and abandons his rigid position on revenues, the sooner we will get a deal. >> i have been on the budget committee the entire time i have been here in the senate. in all of those years, through the clinton administration, through multiple wars, and through the worst recession since the great depression. i have to say that i have never seen anything like what republicans are willing to risk today in these budget negotiations and who they are willing to risk it all for. earlier this week, the bipartisan policy center put out a report that was actually offered by a former bush
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treasury officials about what would happen if republicans continued to play chicken with the fault and the administration was forced to make desperate spending decisions in august. those scenarios were extremely grim. at risk for the benefits and health care that we owe our veterans who have served our nation honorably. social security checks for seniors that are struggling today to buy groceries. unemployment benefits for the millions of workers who are desperately seeking jobs and even pay for active duty military. who are they willing to risk that for? it is people who are making the most in this country, companies like exxonmobil, who despite reporting a problem of over $10 billion in the first quarter of this year, we're all paying more for gas. it is the owners of corporate jets who are doing quite well. it is large corporations were
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shipping our jobs overseas often been and it is the very wealthiest americans who are enjoying the most generous tax breaks in over 60 years. they're not being asked to sacrifice. what we are asking for in this budget deal is that everybody participate. we do not want this budget balanced on the backs of our seniors, our working families, our veterans, and the hard- working americans who know that, should we go to the fault because of their insistence and unshared sacrifice. all we know is that everybody should be at the table and contribute to the serious crisis that is in front of our country. >> senator reid. the reality is that people at the negotiating table now -- why do you need to keep the senate here? is this just for show?
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>> we have to have the entire caucus involved. they want to be involved. they need to be involved. even though some negotiations take place with some of us, the four of us had a meeting with the president that lasted a long time. we to give back and each of as reported to the caucus. that took more than two hours. the caucus needs to feel that they're engaged in the debate. >> can you say with certainty that the votes are not there if the deficit reduction package comes with no revenue measures? what will be on the floor next week? >> first of all, we will not -- on some piece of legislation we do not have to vote on. we are doing our utmost to come up with something -- it takes
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both sides to get something done. we are working on a number of different proposals, as they're ready notes here. we discussed four of them with the president yesterday. i do not know how many have been discussed with other groups of people, including in the house. we will spend some time next week on the libyan resolution. it was voted in a committee. >> tax breaks -- horseracing tax breaks -- or will you be asking republicans to vote on those and go with that? >> that is certainly something
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that we are considering. as you know, the senate rules is that it is not too easy to get things on the floor. we might pick our favorite and go after that. but battle takes time. we are working on it. why have we done this? why have we pointed out these individual tax breaks who, standing alone, will not solve the budgetary problems we have as a country. but added together, they're worth tens of billions of dollars i appreciat. i appreciate my colleagues .alking about this go
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there are all kinds of proposals being made. sumner durbin has worked very hard on this -- senator dorgan has worked very hard on this. durbin has worked very hard on this. it would be very unfair to people who are strangling. we are doing better, but not as well as we would like to do. it is not fair for them to be bearing the burden when the fat cats dart home reaping the benefits. thank you, everybody.
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>> c-span has launched an easy to navigate page on campaign updates. this as at c-span.org /campaign2012. -- visit us at c-span.org /campaign2012. >> a deal on the agreement was reached earlier this week. the house ways and means chairman was senator camp. democratic members of the committee met for about half an hour.
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committee rules require a quorum
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that must include one member of each party. senator hatch informed me that no republicans would attend today. moments ago, republicans objected to the committee meeting today. i am very disappointed that my colleagues have chosen not to join us to consider this legislation. this choice is a strict departure from years of bipartisan work in this committee. noticeequire 48 hours' for official committee business. it provided that notice at 8:00 p.m. on tuesday, giving all members sufficient notice of our meeting today. has always, we take our rules very seriously. instead of participating in a fair and open forum to discuss these agreements, members of this committee chose to block the scheduled marked uup.
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this boycott means that this legislation is now delayed. today's actions move us farther away from finalizing these trade agreements. not meeting our commitment today means someone is without a job and struggling to pay the mortgage, car payment, or their child's tuition and they will have to wait. it means workers who have been laid off will have to wait to get the training they need, to get new jobs. and the pride in the comes with going to work everyday. these agreements will boost our economy by billions of dollars. they represent the opportunities that laid-off workers hope will come.
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there are the jobs that unemployed americans need. in fact, these agreements will create a remarkable 250,000 u.s. jobs and increase u.s. exports by $16 billion. that is just the growth and the job creation we need in these tough economic times. so many americans struggling with these needs -- struggling with our economy need this package. they need these jobs. every day that we delay, we lose ground to our competitors. tomorrow, our trade agreement with the european union enters into force. that is tomorrow. trade agreement with canada will enter into force. this would have cleared this committee and move us one step closer to ratification.
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in these tough economic times, now is simply not the time to walk away. instead, it is a time for members of both parties to come together. american workers and the economy cannot afford to wait any longer. i am disappointed in today's boycott. our resolve to continue working to create the jobs americans need. we will continue in that work for weeks to come. that is it. we're waiting. >> what were you going to say? >> we are waiting. my colleagues may make a comment or two. >> first of all, on behalf of everyone of us here, i want to wish you all the best. we know you're getting married
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on saturday. that is a happy, happy thing and we're happy for you. [applause] mr. chairman, i am dumbfounded and really saddened by what is happening here today. i look at my colleagues sitting up and down this road right now, thoughtful, committed, intelligent people who came here to do the nation's business. at a time when more than ever before people are pleading with us to do the nation's business like adults and come together, crossing party lines, to find common ground for our country. and i look over there and i see these and teachers. on the very same day that the
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july 4 recess has been canceled because four or five members on that side refused to allow the senate to recess, supposedly because we have so much business. you know, what is happening here in this committee today tells the story of the broken politics of our country and the broken united states senate. it is frustrating. i came here today prepared to vote for a package that puts americans to work, that creates jobs in our country. that is in our national security interest as well as our economic interest. it would have paved the way for us to open up the pathway for american products and help american workers to be able to adjust to the impact of trade
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differences that occur. we all know that they occur. ironically, our colleagues who are not here are the same ones who have been attacking the administration for imaginary delay and dawdling about getting these very trade package is passed. i guess it was important to them until it stopped being important to them. politics to over. is it politics took over. there's something really at risk here. this is not a phony moment. every day that goes by, the americans are wondering how they will go to work. how will we compete? how will america is the number one? here we have an opportunity to open up new products that can be sold out of country, sold abroad. yet they have taken this extraordinary step of walking away from their responsibilities, walking away
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from the american people, walking away from the meeting of the senate at this extraordinary moment one reason is possibly that they do not like the trade adjustment assistance in the bill. the chairman had the temerity to strike a compromise with the house of representatives. imagine that. or because they do not want anything to pass here. they want to do everything possible to hurt the president and keep the economy where it is. election strategy 2012. i cannot think of any other reason. we used to have members of this committee who believed -- who came from states that were impacted by trade. they believe you needed to help workers be able to transition. president bush, in his last state of the union address, may be one of the few times i have
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quoted it positively, said trade brings better jobs and better prices and better prices. yet for some americans, trade can mean losing a job and the federal government has a responsibility to help. that is president bush saying this. i asked congress to adjust trade assistance so we can help displaced workers find new jobs. governor barbara of mississippi joined in that. -- governor barbour of mississippi joined in on that. world trade cannot cause a requirement for temporary support for individuals in impacted industries. the program which was first established in 1963 is a critical program to move in tandem with free trade agreements to help american workers adapt to changes in the global marketplace. these governors have to be
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scratching their heads, republican governors that once the adjustment assistance. they have to look at these empty seats and wonder what is happening to the united states congress in the united states senate. i do not know how you justify this. it saddens me. i have been here 27 years. it really makes you stop and wonder how are we going to get our business done if you cannot compromise tax -- compromise? i am deeply frustrated by it. i think the american people -- it has just got to be beyond themselves wondering what is going on in washington, looking at this kind of the spectacle. we give up our fourth of july recess to do visits. they have been screaming about getting these agreements done. we cannot do it. enough said.
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>> last monday, i held for the first time a full committee hearing, bipartisan, in charleston, west virginia about manufacturing and exporting. the message was basically this. they knew the message. we have lost a third of our manufacturing jobs in the last number of years. but guess what. exports from west virginia to other parts of the world have gone up by 50% in a couple of years. the audience was riveted and galvanized. some companies were formed. business people out there, labor
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people, and public citizens, government officials, started working on these problems. how can we increase exports from west virginia, which is not a rich state? we've talked about the fact that in the case of some of these countries if you do not have a trade agreement with them and they maintain anywhere up to a 50% tariff you might try to sell in their country. if you do have a trade agreement with them, those tariffs disappear. not all of them immediately, but all of them shortly. that makes our products more competitive. those folks in west virginia who attended that hearing were galvanized by that. they were enthused by that.
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they expect us to be doing that. i am not disturbed -- i cannot say my wife of shares that feeling -- that we are being held here for a week. what disturbs me is that we could be making progress on export promotion, which is what the people of west virginia at expect us to be doing. that is a ray of hope for west virginia. we do not have a lot. >> thank you for the extraordinary diligence that you have shown in bringing these agreements before us. that is a real accomplishment, and it is absolutely in the national interest. you should be commended for it. i know you have put an extraordinary effort into it, and to have forged a compromise you did with our colleagues on both sides in the house,
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represents a real achievement. i believe the actions of our colleagues on this committee are inexplicable and indefensible. when unemployment is too high and economic growth is too low, and we had an opportunity today to strengthen our economy, and our republican colleagues refuse to show up for work. all across america, hundreds of millions of people showed up to work today. there were expected we would do our jobs. they were expecting that we would show up to work to solve our country's problems. the only explanation i can see is a remember very well the republican leader, mr. mcconnell, saying early in this session that his number one priority was to defeat president obama. i thought our number one
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priority was to solve the country's problems. but i think we are beginning to see a pattern that some of our colleagues on the other side -- their party is political victory, regardless of the consequences to the country. that is a very, very sad day. >> thank you, mr. chairman. congratulations on saturday. i guess this is a public announcement. i will make sure there are some good oregon pinots their on saturday. i have had the honor to chair the subcommittee on the finance committee. we have always tried to work in a bipartisan way. i think it is important people understand what the bottom line is today. that is the longer you delay legislation that expands our
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exports, the slow were our economic recovery will be. that is the bottom line. because what we have seen, and under your leadership we have explored, is expanded trade is about more jobs. it is about the very jobs we need most -- high skill, high- wage jobs, the jobs where we can grow things in america and make things here in america. we can add value to them in america and ship them around the world. i just want to make it clear. i think your remarks are on point. this is going to be a tremendous bipartisan opportunity for our country. i believe you look at the enforcement agenda than has been bipartisan. chinese companies are
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laundering merchandise through correa and other countries to avoid trade laws. we could have made progress today to combat this. so on each of these issues -- you pointed out the trade adjustment. that has historically been bipartisan. we know that as we expand trade there will be changes in our economy. that is why we have the trade adjustment program as a trampoline, to make sure our workers can get health care, job training, and assistance. i look forward to the date when we can get back to what has always been bipartisan business here on this committee. again, our congratulations on saturday. >> we should wrap up soon. do others want to speak? >> mr. chairman, congratulations on your wedding. it is too bad you are going to have to cancel your honeymoon. we will all --
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>> we will make it up other ways. >> did you ever think you were going to have us on your honeymoon with you? [laughter] >> my fiancee certainly did not. [laughter] >> next week, some of us are going to take the floor. we're going to talk about a comprehensive settlement with real money about bringing down the deficit over the next decade. we're going to talk about real money. it is not going to be smoke and mirrors. it is not going to be budgetary sleight of hand. it is going to bite. it is going to walk out $4 trillion out of the deficit over 10 years.
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i can tell you this senator, from a state whose people what solutions -- if this is a sign of things to come, we're going to have a tough time as it gets closer and closer to august 2. because there is not going to be any cooperation, if this is the son to come. and if you do something real about the budget, $4 trillion real over 10 years, you have to have bipartisan cooperation. that is what the people sent us here to do. that is what is the tradition of this country.
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particularly when the country's back is against the wall in crisis. the people come together. this is an awfully bad sign. >> i will be very brief. my congratulations. much happiness and joy in your marriage. the apparent contradictions on the other side are enormous. yesterday, 7210 of our republican colleagues got up and said we must stay here next week. today, they do not show up. totally inconsistent within the span of 24 hours. it leaves you to only one conclusion, which my colleagues have alluded to. they want the country to be in as bad shape as possible because that might help them electorial it. there are always for tax breaks for employers.
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employees, no. they have always been forgetting for many of them attachments to trade agreements, but not now. the list goes on and on. it is like a new fever has taken over the other side that the best way to win is hurt the country as much as you can, and that will create political benefit. pissed it is sad. obviously, all of us here are upset by it. but it is just confounding. i have never experienced anything like it in the 37 years i have been in politics. >> yes. >> thanks very much, mr. chairman, and congratulations to you. i want to add one thing to this discussion. that is the fact that part of what we are doing here is fulfilling a commitment on trade adjustment assistance for
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workers, small businesses, and farmers who are waiting for us. they have a sense of urgency in their life. since february, with the blocking by republicans of the extension of taa assistance, we have people losing their job and they do not have the opportunity to get training, to be able to get a loan to start a business, to be able to do what they need to do to compete in the global economy. just yesterday, workers at rider integrated logistics in michigan were denied help because there were service workers. we included them two years ago. these are folks that lost their jobs and fewer goods were stored in warehouses they worked in because of the global economy. with what you are proposing, they would be able to get help. thank you for that. i could go on and on. every month in michigan, there
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are those who own a small business, a worker or former, who have been impacted adversely by trade. in agreements we have made, those who are affected negatively by open markets -- we help them retooled. i just want to say for the record there are a lot of folks with a lot of urgency now who are counting on us to be able to do something that will be able to help them put their life back together. they can care for their families. that is an important thing. thank you for your work on the trade adjustment assistance. >> thank you very much. i am proud of each of you. we have worked well together. each of us represents a different state, a different economy, different point of view, yet we are all together. it is our national motto --
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kiepura the system -- e pluribus unim. we are a part that together. this is the moment of truth for our country. it sounds dramatic, but i think it is true. how competitive is this country going to be for our kids and our grandkids? we have to look forward. we have to concentrate on agreements that make sense. trade adjustment would make sense. i also think it is a moment of truth for this country fiscally. center nelson and a senator conrad have spent a number of hours trying to figure of the right solution. there is a moment of truth in america, whether we can get our budget together and increase the debt limit. i also think it is a moment of truth publicly. can this country function? senator kerry mentioned perhaps the senate is dysfunctional. at least a few more than half of
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us want to show up to work and work things out, cast votes. that is why we are here, to move forward. i very much hope -- we are all optimists in this business. we would not be here if you are not the optimists. we can be said because the other side did not show up. but we are optimistic we will be able to find solutions. we will keep moving forward and looking for the day when the other side does show up, so we can do our nation's business. my apologies to the witnesses and other people who worked so hard, the staff who have worked so hard to help us craft a solution. but we will prevail. because we have to. i think everybody for your hard work, and all of you for showing up on this side of the aisle. next time, we would get the other side to show up.
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thank you very much. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011]
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>> and let republicans spoke with reporters about why they declined to join the democrats for the finance committee's markup of pending free-trade agreements. this is a little less than a half-hour.
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>> let me just make one statement. this is related to everything. we have had a conversation about this massive national debt. the president has tried to raise new taxes on job creators. we wish the president would have that conversation rather than his press agent. the finance committee is set to begin and markup of three pending free-trade agreements -- colombia, panama, and south korea.
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i along with the other republican members will not be attending the markup, denying the necessary quorum to conduct committee business. i want to be clear. we do not take this action lightly. we have a great deal of respect for this committee, this institution, and our colleagues on the other side of the aisle. however, the substance has been so innoxious the we cannot pretend as though everything is fine. we would be doing a disservice to our constituents and our oath's if we were to collaborate in this current process. these trade agreements were signed four and five years ago. the president urged the congress in a speech in january during his state of the union address. all three have been ready for months. yet this week before the fourth of july weekend, this market is
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announced and set for 3:00 in the afternoon, after many senators are gone for the july 4 weekend. hundreds of thousands of hours have been spent in getting it ready for congress to consider these free trade agreements. and then there is this attempt to jim and to the committee. the reason for the scheduling is simple. the administration, to appease its political allies, is desperate to attach an extension of the stimulus to the korean agreement. these trade agreements would bring billions of dollars in economic growth to our country overnight. there would create thousands of new jobs. they are preparing to throw years of work on the free trade agreements down the drain for this. this is beyond irresponsible. if the president's want to pass
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taa, let it stand on its own accord like we always have in the past. but do not attach it to these agreements. we gave the administration fair warning. we would not stomach attaching as big a thing as this on to our agreements. he decided to ignore those who do not agree with him. it is an apartment that has come to this. the president will have to live with his choice. just so you understand the procedures here, when i heard there were going to hold this market today, days ago i said to the chairman, "why don't you put it off until after the recess? it will go through and you will have a lot of corporation." he said no. first of all, he said he would consider it. then he talked to the white
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house and said we are not going to do it. yesterday, we said we were willing to waive the committee ruled if you would begin the markup at 10:00 a.m.. he said, "i will do it if you stop anybody on your side from invoking the two-hour rule." so we went to the father of getting a request that would waive the to our rule in the case of this market. that is important. this is our way of being able to show the white house and the president what we would like to see. then all of a sudden i get you today and they said the markup is at 3:00. that is not fair. it is not right.
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i do not blame my colleague max baucus, although i think he should have stood up to them. but frankly it is clear they just want to ram this through. there are 97 members. i it -- the amendments. i think we could have gotten through them if we had brought them up. we were willing to cooperate and do everything we could. we are against the taa, but this is where we are. there are rights in the minority as well. this is the only way we can exercise our rights in this manner. we have exercised them. hopefully, the white house will wise up, sit down, and get these agreements through. you can imagine what it would mean to probably our greatest friends in this hemisphere, colombia and panama.
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we all want these agreements. we just do not want and trotted out for political purposes. on a call on senator kyle and senator roberts. >> thank you, senator hatch. but we support what senator hatch said. in the past, the trade law has been the trade promotion authority in the same authority as the trade adjustment assistance, the tpa and taa. republicans have generally supported free trade agreements and the process by which they are most efficacious sleeping negotiated and then brought to congress. that is why the accelerated provisions of the trade promotion authority can be very helpful to get these agreements through. we want the president to have that authority and for treaties to come to congress in
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accordance with the provisions of the trade promotion authority. democrats have wanted to add to these various agreements the taa assistance provisions which provide some support for communities and workers who ostensibly have lost their jobs as a result of free trade. republicans have never given much credence to that argument. our belief is that as a general proposition, free trade agreements create jobs. they don't kill jobs. it is true, however, that some people in the ordinary course of markets working over years and years will lose a certain kind of job and will have to be retrained to do another kind of job. i do not think there are more whale oil manufacturers left, for example. we provide something like 47 different types of job training programs in this country.
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it is more than $1 billion a year. we have said do not add more expenses to that, which the stimulus bill added, 600 million in additional expenses. those have expired, the stimulus provisions. the underlying taa still exists for the other it 18 months. we believe it is too expensive, duplicative, and does not work. there is waste and fraud. we are willing to talk about how should be reformed. just do not add additional stimulus expenses to it. secondly, consider it in the context of tpa, as we have done in the past. do not hold these very important agreements with columbia, correa, and panama hostage in order to get the taa through as
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a sop to your labor union constituency. that is what is involved here. i think if the administration would appreciate that the house and senate republicans are resolved almost unanimously to approach the issue in this way, we can accomplish everybody's agenda. we can get these free trade agreements pass. we can take another look at taa and see if we can get it passed. and we can look at future authority president will want to have to negotiate trade agreements. this is why it is so important to the republicans on the finance committee, and why we want this done in the right way. >> in kansas, our farmers and ranchers depend on exports. we like to think of ourselves as the capital, the beef state.
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these agreements certainly mean a lot. the trade agreements have been held up in colombia's instance, what, 10 years? this has become an issue, an issue of national security as well. so it is with deep disappointment that we are at this point today. in the past, this has been a bipartisan effort, and i think this is a dramatic change from that. i do not support the majority's move to jamba taa -- jam the taa into the implementing bill despite all the calls. it is not only copter braziel, but it sets a precedent. we have not done this before it -- it is not only controversy all, but it's it's a precedent.
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in this type of economic environment, we have a duty. that is why we are here and will be here this next week. the president said, let's all go to work. we will all be here. unfortunately, not working on a deal because the deal does not exist. now he says it is time to talk to republicans. i remember when he talked to republicans before and all we got was a lecture. maybe if he would come down and talk to us, it might be helpful. in a closer look at the proposed offsets for this whole thing, it is robbing peter to pay paul. the last congress took half a trillion dollars from medicare to pay for the new entitlement program in the obama-care act. now the proposed to take another $400 million to pay for another entitlement program.
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this is in regards to imaging, where they cut it out. that have already cut a bunch and energy. you want a shoulder replacement or hip replacement or any kind of replacement, you may not get an imaging situation with you and your doctor. if you do, you'll pay more for it, and for what? they stop proposing draconian cuts, especially when it does not reduce the tax payer burden? and it is one thing, as john pointed out, to provide this assistance in response to job loss to the trade pacts with the countries that are involved, but that is not the case. they want to not only at the stimulus to this, making it much more expensive, but it is under the banner of globalization.
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if you have been dislocated or suffering any kind of harm in terms of economic hardship, it is due to globalization. i defy anybody to define that. any rate, there are a lot of and put questions to answer that will not happen now because taa is now beyond the reach of congress and its review note is as it is packaged. this is different from the committee process that was standard before, the senate process, it denies senators the ability to fully express the views of the constituents. most of them involve health care. why we are opening up health care as an offset to trade assessments is beyond me. it is a bitter disappointment for us and i hope we move ahead in the future. >> as you have heard, but one of the big difficulties is having taa thrust into the caribbean
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treaty. the caribbean treaty is extremely critical to this nation -- the korean treaty is extremely critical to this nation. the other countries will get and then it's because we have waited a long so long. but most of the amendments are eager to eliminate that or to change it in some way that fits with the bill. this bill would be easy to pass if that was taken out. it fits with the fast-track process, and that is when we usually get the big compromise. but they thought they could jam it through in this treaty. that is the holdup on most of the bill. is the korean to read the -- treaty emcor? absolutely. -- is the korean treaty
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important? absolutely. it would provide for a billion dollars per year. not only that, in talking with the chinese, they have that always had reasons about feed, always tied to the same excuses the koreans have used. it would also help in china, and china has at over a billion people. we need to have adequate time if they're going to leave taa in there to see if we can change it. it is a mock markup. this is our only opportunity to say something on the bill. we could say add to the president, but he does not that it is worth his time to talk to us. i would hope that he would not only talk to us but listen to us. i was at the health care meeting at the blair house where we spent eight hours, but
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everytime a republican shared an idea, he did not listen to it. i took notes on what people said. i mentioned the ones i thought or fat and promised to look at the others and discussed them in more detail. we're just having things thrust at us like taa included in the korean treaty. >> it is unfortunate these free trade agreements -- i think they would have broad bipartisan support -- are being held hostage to the additional spending for trade adjustment assistance. i look at it from the perspective of being from an agricultural state, the last two years, we have lost a billion dollars of agricultural exports in columbia. the canadians are finalizing a deal at effective july 1 with colmbia. if they get that in place and we did not get ours in place, it is
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likely will see our feed exports to colombia evaporate and canadians will fill that void. when it comes to correa, you have the european union that signed the agreement that will give them a leg up and put us at a disadvantage when it comes to export opportunities. you have, as has been pointed out, a precedent that has been set for a long time with the trade authority moves with trade adjustment assistance, and you have free trade agreements which literally have been languishing here for years. for president and administration and leaders in congress who say they are concerned about economic growth and job creation to leave something like this sitting around for four years that could create jobs and put people back to work and open up export opportunities for
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american exporters and help us expand and grow the economy, it is inconceivable. but this is another tactic being used for this free trade agreement is being hijacked in order to get spending that the administration wants at a time when we should be looking on how to reduce spending rat date then the expanded and the policies in place to create jobs and not reduce and shrink the economy and cost jobs. that is why we need to pass these. we can have debates about trade adjustment assistance in the context with the trade promotion authority. >> let me just add, we're talking about $14 billion in trade. thousands and thousands of jobs that would be created. it seems to me they want to play politics with this issue when we are willing to sit down and get it done, but not on the late date and not even a member of
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the committee can appear. and even then, we want to be able to bring up whatever we have. this is an important issue, and that is where we are. >> what can republicans do in order to separate taa from the treaty? >> we will have to watch the house on this matter. i believe the house will bring that up separately. ithey can do this. why gum up the free-trade agreement, which the president says we absolutely need to have? he has been saying it ever since he has been president, at least this year for sure in his january speech. this is just another way of trying to pacify a special interest group that really does not belong in the equation at this point, and if taa is that
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essential, it ought to be able to stand on its own merits. that is all we are saying. but we should not be pushed like this at a time when they know we want to consider this seriously and not just a few votes. this is important stuff. you cannot just do it at 3:00 in the afternoon on a day when a lot of people have already left for a fourth of july. >> will there be a separate vote? >> my personal belief is the house will have several votes and they may take up the taa separately. as are unified as unified asta -- we are unified as republicans that taa should not be attached to this korean treaty. they're setting a very bad standard in the process.
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we are willing to go through that, at an appropriate time, not at the last second. i have done everything i could to say let's do it, but let's do it in the right way at the right time. even this morning at 10:00, we would have done it. we went to that great extent to have a unanimous consent agreement. anybody would have a right to do. which is exactly what the chairman asked me to do. i am very disappointed that it has come to this. hopefully, -- it is our only way of telling the president about the agreement. it is still going to be up to the administration on what they send up here. once it comes up, it cannot be amended. under the laws as we have them today.
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anybody else? >> senator, the democrats have agreed [inaudible] -- they have agreed to hold this markup at 10:00. you were prepared to move forward. >> we were all prepared to move forward. the white house wanted to jam us. and we are not going to put up with being jammed. you would be disappointed if we put up with that. we have rights, too. all i can say is that we will not get shoved around like this when you have 97 under intense -- of incidents that people wanted to bring up. -- 97 amendments that people want to bring up. i doubt seriously they would have brought this up if we started at 10:00, i don't know they will when we do have a good mark up on this.
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but we are not going to be jammed like this just because the white house does not want to deal straight up on these things. >> if the house could move it separately? >> i do not run the senate. they would be in a lot better position if they would deal straight up on it. none of us wants taa to model the three trade agreements. keep in mind, they said three months ago, he said, but we will get those agreements. there was no mention of taa. we go through all the things we have to do get them ready. and then they said, we have to have taa. if they want to have it, bring it up.
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bring it up on its own merits. it may very well pass. to link it to the caribbean free-trade agreement -- to the caribbean trade agreement -- korean trade agreement, it is a bad precedent to start. we do not want these linked to the average domestic issue that we have. let's do it the right way. >> thank you very much. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> today's farewell ceremony for
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outgoing defense secretary robert gates. in one hour, a hearing on how much money is being spent on afghanistan reconstruction. on washington journal tomorrow morning, the debt ceiling debate with david keating, executive director and a former democratic senator. and we will be joined by at cornelia orr for the nation's report card on the nation's history. that is live everyday at 7:00 a.m. eastern. >> every saturday in july, historic supreme court or arguments on c-span radio about 14th amendment cases, including sexual orientation and gender and race discrimination. this saturday, single-sex admission policies in mississippi university for women
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vs. hogan. c-span ready yet, 90.1 in washington, d.c., nationwide on xm satellite radio, and one line at c-span.org. we used to not released transcripts of arguments. now we did not release them within a half hour. at least to be audio recordings were released into the term. now they are released at the end of every week. so we are moving in a particular direction. cameras present all sorts of challenges that these other areas do not. >> right now on that youtube, watched chief justice john roberts comments on cameras in the courtroom. also, american history tt, online at youtube/cspan. >> outgoing defense secretary robert gates was presented the
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presidential medal of freedom today, the nation's highest civilian award, a first offense occurred to serve both a democratic and republican president was honored at a pentagon ceremony that included remarks by president obama and admiral mike mullen.
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>> ladies and gentlemen, the vice-president of the united states. [applause]
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>> ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the arrival of the official party and remained standing as honors are rendered.
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ladies and gentlemen, taking the reviewing stand is the honorable robert m. gates, secretary of defense, accompanied by admiral mike mullen, and the host of today's tribute, the president of the united states, barack obama.
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please be seated.
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ladies and gentlemen, secretary thes was you tharepresented wht distinguished public service award and the united states air force decoration for exceptional civilian service. mrs becky gates has been awarded the distinguished public service award by the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.
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[applause]
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♪ ♪
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ladies and gentlemen, please stand for the united states national anthem. ♪
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>> please be seated.
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ladies and gentlemen, admiral mullen. >> mr. president, sec. gates, becky, distinguished guests, good morning. on behalf of our men and women in unufirm, -- uniform, let me thank you for being here as we honor robert yates. -- gates. he has led the military in the time of world with impeccable integrity and a staunch commitment, no matter how difficult that things may be, no matter how high or how low in the chain of command is needed to travel. in that regard, he showed the pragmatism and the grit of our soldiers. i think that this is why so many of them are drawn to him.
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there were no fancy words. now that he doesn't have a vocabulary or even a colorful vocabulary, he can throw a barber with the best of them, like the time he called washington the only place in the world where someone can walk down lover's lane holding their own hand. it is not just his wits. he is very honest. as one soldier put it, he couldn't play dead in a cowboy movie. it is this honesty with which he has -- that has served him so well. in his four decades of public service, no fewer than eight
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american presidents have benefited from his advice. and i could add hundreds of generals and admirals, thousands of college students and millions of american soldiers around the world. i will take a wild guess, but i bet that he would say that it was a lot harder to get generals to watch -- to get soldiers to watch generals and admirals. he got through in a big way, making us think about things we had not considered, making us try a little bit harder and lead a little bit better. he drilled down for details, and never stop asking us the uncomfortable questions. when you compared to pulling teeth the act of compelling change in the military, you are
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a setback. but you saw the change that was needed before any of us. you lead the transition to a new mission in iraq, and the transition we now strive for in afghanistan. you testify new efficiencies and business practices with taxpayer dollars. you forced the acquisition system to purchase a greater number of armored vehicles to a greater number of our soldiers could come home alive to their families. and you demanded that when they did come home, they were given all the respect and dignity and the care and support that they needed to get on with their lives. that is the other reason are soldiers respect you so much. you are a fighter and the always knew that you were fighting for them, and that they had no better friend.
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there is not a single one of them that would not say that when the chips fall -- they fought for their friends the hardest. i am proud to count myself as one of your friends. i will miss your leadership and your counsel. i will miss coming home on a saturday afternoon and sitting on your front porch. i will not miss you blowing all of your dead leaves on to my lawn. [laughter] we will miss you and the manner in which the quiet dignity with which you have served the military and our country as a whole. to say that we are grateful is to vastly understate our motions on the stay.
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if there is a more distinguished legacy of public service by any to american citizens i did not know of this. i thank you, sir. it is my great honor to introduce to you a man who has devoted an extraordinary amount of time to the task of keeping america safe. he is a man who, along with his spouse, has made the well-being of our soldiers and their families the highest of priorities that he will pursue. ladies and gentlemen, barack obama.
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[applause] >> thank you very much. admiral mollen, thank you for your eloquent words, and also for your extraordinary service as you near your well-deserved retirement. thank you for the decades of incredible service. members of congress, deputy secretary and members of the joint chiefs of staff. secretaries and distinguished guests, men and women of the finest military in the world. secretary gates, and i want to
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abolish a daughter. -- acknowledge your daughter. by took office, he had served under seven presidents, during an illustrious career spanning four decades. he would have been forgiven if he had opted for a private life of comfort. he had learned this. when asked by a reporter if he would stay on to serve another president, he offered the answer, inconceivable. why did he say? there are days when he will ask this himself and i am certain his wife asks this also. but believe i know the answer because i have seen this man in
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those moments of debate and decision, one person's character is revealed. in the oval office and the situation room, and the theaters of war. if you look past all of his flashiest, bravado, and his sharp attire, what you see is a man i know and respect. a man of common sense and decency, one of the nation's finest public servants. today, you are not only one of the longest serving secretaries
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of defense, but one of the best. why did bob gates serve? our nation is at war. to know bob is to know his profound sense of duty. our country and our security, and our men and women who get up every day and put on america's uniforms, and put theri lives on the line. when the outcome of the war in iraq was in doubt, he presided over the extraordinary efforts. over the last few years, we have removed 100,000 soldiers from iraq and ended the combat mission. we are responsibly ending the
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war. the fight against al qaeda -- when we needed to focus, he was helping us to devise this strategy that put al qaeda on the path of the feet and made -- made it so afghanistan was never in the source of attacks on the nation. bob gates launched a war on waste, challenging conventional wisdom with courage and conviction, speaking the hard truths and saving hundreds of billions of dollars that would be invested in the 21st century military. it was his mission to make certain that there were serving the troops in the field as well as us. and today we see the lifesaving
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difference that he has made. the shorter medevac times in afghanistan. and the determination to give the wounded warriors the world class care that they deserve. this may be your greatest legacy. the confidence that you gave our men and women in battle. there was a secretary of defense who fought for them, and did everything in his power to bring them home safe. let me also thanked becky for her extraordinary work with our extraordinary military families. i know they consider our soldiers to be like their own sons and daughters.
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this is a responsibility that we have shared as leaders, every day in a time of war. we send them into harm's way. and we know that this is the reason that they are there. we stood in solemn respect at dover when our heroes made their final journey home, and we watched them grieved bill of ones that they get to america. but today, we not only paid tribute to remarkable public servant, we celebrate the principles for which we have served.
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i believe the life of bob gates is a lesson, especially to young americans, a lesson that public service is an honorable calling. and that we can pass the country to those who follow. the next secretary of defense has described the same life of service. and he will lead this department with a clear vision and a steady hand. in his willingness to read this -- the first secretary of defense to serve under both parties, his integrity is also a reminder, especially for the people in washington. civility and respect for this course, citizenship over
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partisanship, these are not relics of a bygone era. we need them now more than ever. whatever the differences are of party and ideology, which only keep america strong if we remember what keeps america great, the ability to work together as americans. for common purpose. finally, as we face difficult challenges across the world at the helm, but today be a reminder that the united states will meet the test of our times. fewer americans are in harm's way and we will bring the war. responsible land. we will make difficult choices and do this responsibly. i am certain that the armed forces will always remain the
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best equipped fighting force in history. in an uncertain world that demands our leadership, this will remain the greatest force for freedom the world has ever known. this is the america, to which she has devoted his life. this is the america that we dedicate ourselves to. i can think of no better way to express my appreciation to someone i have come to admire, and i can think of no better way to express the gratitude of the nation than with very special recognition.
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i would ask for you to please stand. as the president, the highest honor i can give you is the medal of freedom. it speaks to the values we cherish as a people, and ideals that we strive for. it is my purpose to present the presidential medal of freedom to the 22nd secretary of defense, robert gates. will you please read the citation? >> the presidential medal of freedom, to robert gates. he has selflessly dedicated his life to making certain of the security of the american people. he has served eight presidents of both parties with unwavering
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patriotism. he has led the department of defense with courage and confidence during the wars in iraq and afghanistan, making certain that our forces are better prepared for the conflicts of today and tomorrow. we thank him for a lifetime of service and devotion to the nation. [applause] >> thank you, mr. president, for those kind words.
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for honoring me and this department with your presence here today. i am deeply honored and moved by your presentation of this award, and this is a big surprise, but we should have known a couple of months ago that you are good that covert operations. [laughter] mr. vice president, colleagues and friends, thank you for being here this morning. i would like to congratulate leon panetta. he suggested obama retained me as secretary of defense. when obama asked about my successor i returned the favor. [laughter] this department and country are
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fortunate that he has agreed to serve once again. at such an important time. my parting advice is to get his office just the way he likes it, because he may be here longer than he thinks. i would like to thank the members of congress who are with us today, and i appreciate the supportive treatment by citizens of both parties and even when there were disagreements, congress always came through for programs to take care of soldiers and their families. as you may have noticed over the last few weeks, i have had my say on many topics. if this is the last top, i would like to spend a few minutes talking about the men
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and women i have been fortunate enough to work with at this job. i would like to talk about the people i have served with, serving as the secretary of defense has been the greatest honor of my life. first, to president bush for giving me this opportunity. and for the support that he provided in the early months on the job. and barack obama for his confidence in taking the historic step of asking someone he did not know to stay on, and for his continued trust, ever since. the transition from the bush to obama administration was from one political party to another in a time of war in 40 years. the professionalism of the
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transition was a great benefit to the country and was attributed to the character of both of the president's. i have been fortunate that we both had -- they both gave me a great series of appointees. the first thing i did was to retain every single senior official i received from secretary donald rumsfeld. most of them have been with me through the state. and i have been fortunate enough to get another first- class roster from barack obama, providing with superb council on a range of issues and initiatives. these and other achievements and anything of consequence achieved in this department required successful collaboration between the military and civilian leadership. i have received forthright and loyal council from the leadership of the joint chiefs
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of staff and i will always be grateful to them for their cooperation and their friendship. i want to thank the chairman of the joint chiefs when i arrived. and my battle body of four years. mike mullen. without his effective leadership the record of the last several years would have been different. he was never shy about disagreeing with me, but never failed to stay loyal to me and the president that he served. he is the epitome of a leader and an officer, a man of supreme integrity and a good friend. the practice in the spirit of collaboration is important for those dealing with intelligence and diplomacy.
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the blow against al qaeda exemplifies a remarkable transformation with military operations in the 21st century. my views have evolved over the years. i started out as a staffer with president nixon and his national security council. the nixon white house was not exactly a hotbed of admiration for the foreign service. it was thought of as people with last names for first names who took time to implement the president's foreign policy. for much of my professional life, the secretary of defense and the president were barely speaking. i have not only been on speaking terms with these formidable women, but we have
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also become colleagues and good friends. giving a speech for more money for the state department did not hurt, but we should never forget the development experts who are taking risks and making sacrifices in the least hospitable places on the planet. and i appreciate the sacrifices they are making for afghanistan and iraq and other places across the globe. as i were to support the soldiers on these missions i spent a great deal of time venting frustration with the bureaucracy. the people most often frustrated in this building are the career civilian professionals whose drive every day to overcome the obstacles to get things done. i understand and i appreciate the challenges of these public servants and the sacrifices that the endara, and what they
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accomplish has not received the thanks that it deserves. i leave this post grateful for everything they have done for the military and national security. during a time of war, the top priority of everyone in this building must be to get those at the front what they need to succeed on the battlefield, and to be properly taken care of when they get home. i have spent much of the past few months with the soldiers, in number of forward operating bases in afghanistan. i was only help -- hopeful to lead a small sample of those downrange, to look them in the eye and let them know how much i appreciate what they and their families do for our country. looking forward i knew that it would be very difficult for me to express my feelings for these young men and women, in a
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way that would allow me to get through this speech. a personal message from me to all of the servicemen and women across the world was published and distributed in the military channel. i will just say that here -- i will think of these young warriors, the ones who fought and keep on fighting, and those who never made it back until the end of my days. and as i was contemplating this moment i thought about something becky told me in january 2005 when i was as to the first director of national intelligence. i was wrestling with this decision and i told her she could make it easier if she said she did not want to go back to washington. she said, you have to do what you have to do. this is what military spouses have said a million times since 9/11.
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this is to those considering another tour of service. just under five years ago i was approached by the same president to serve. and her response was the same. as much as she loved texas a and m and could do without another stint in this washington, she made it easy to say yes. what answer the call to serve when so much was at stake in america. we are really going home this time. your love and support at me grounded, since we first met on a blind date 45 years ago. i will lockout of my office for the last time, as the defense secretary. it is empty of all my personal items, but i will still have over my desk the portraits of two of my heroes and role
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models. generals eisenhower and marshall. i take a closing thought that was given in the opening years of the cold war. addressing new university graduates, he extolled what he said was the great most of that generation. hicks told what was needed from that generation. the development of a sense of pop -- possibility for world order, with the overwhelming importance of the country's actions and failures to act. now, as when marshall first uttered those words, a sense of america's exceptional global responsibilities and the importance of what we do or do not do remain the guest musts of this dangerous new century. it is the sacred duty entrusted to all of us privileged to serve in positions of leadership and responsibility, a duty we should never forget or take lightly, a duty i have every confidence you
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will all continue to fulfill. thank you, god bless our military and the countries they so nobly serve. -- the country they so nobly serve.
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♪ >> ladies and gentlemen, please stand and remain in position for the departure of the official party.
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>> ladies and gentlemen, this concludes today ceremony. please return to the building through the mall entrance.
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thank you for attending and enjoy your day. >> in a few moments, a hearing on how much money is being spent on afghan reconstruction. in a little more than two and a half hour, senate debate on the budget and debt ceiling. after that, the u.s. sentencing commission considers retroactively lowering crack cocaine sentencing guidelines for prisoners already serving time. later, g.o.p. presidential candidate mitt romney on the economy and jobs. nasa administrator charles bolden speaks tomorrow at the national press club. the last space shuttle launch is scheduled for friday, july 8. >> tune in to c-span this
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independence day. writer michael lynn and others discuss if the united states can remain divided. >> we are we're more divided than at any point since the civil war. >> later, nixon white house insiders discuss his presidency's foreign policy. this monday, july 4, beginning at 10:00 a.m. eastern. for the complete schedule of programs and times, go to c-span.org. >> now a hearing about the amount of money being spent in afghanistan. this is a little more than two and a half hours.
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>> i will start with my opening remarks and if the senator gets here before i get done, he'll have a chance, and if the witnesses have started, i will ask them to allow him to make his opening remarks. i would like to not give a formal opening statement but just express the reason for this hearing. this is not the first hearing we have had and i have begun working on this program almost the day i arrived in the senate. i traveled to iraq to do nothing but look at contracting oversight. because i couldn't figure out how in the world things have gotten so out of control in terms of contracting in iraq. i went to iraq and realized why they had gotten out of control. the contracting representatives in these units were just the low
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man on the totem pole that were handed a clipboard. there was no training. there was not sufficient effort made on sustainability. there were decisions made that frankly were made with almost a myopic look at the mission and not a realistic look at security and sustainability. and competency. in terms of available personnel to continue whatever money we were spending on reconstruction. i always point out that the contract if you look up an example, the initial law cap contract, if you look at an example of everything wrong with contracting, that would be the poster child. people may not remember that the estimates for that contract for the first year were supposed to be under $1 billion. the first year that contract cost our country $20 billion.
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it is just one example. i want to try to focus today on reconstruction contracting and the sad thing about this hearing is, i've been hopeful back in 2007 that by this year, we would have done a lot to overcome some of the problems in reconstruction contracting in theater. this hearing does not make me feel good about the progress we've made. there has been system progress but the american people can't afford this anymore. in next year's budget, the president requested $17.3 billion for reconstruction contracting in afghanistan. now, that's a big number -- a good number if the united states of america was humming along. that's a big number if our roads weren't crumbling because we don't have the money to fix them. that's a big number if we are not looking at cutting many
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programs that are essential for the health and welfare of this nation. but in light of the fact that we are facing the fiscal problems we are in this country, that's an enormous number that's going to go into the country of afghanistan to build roads, to build public structures, whether they're schools or other public structures and i think it is now become an urgent matter for this congress to look seriously at whether or not that kind of reconstruction money is absolutely essential to our mission in afghanistan. i think if you look at the lessons we've learned in the past in afghanistan and iraq, the government has been slow to apply those lessons. i'm not sure that the implementation of afghan first is leading to the outcome that would make any american proud.
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i'm not sure the government and contractors have taken the steps necessary to provide the transparency and accountability we have to demand in light of the incredibly difficult decision we're faced with in the united states congress in terms of our fiscal picture in this country. this is the 10th year and we have spent over $61 billion total already on reconstruction. the vast majority of the spending has been through contractors. the defense department and usaid are primarily responsible for this. part of our problem that we will talk about today is no one is totally responsible. there's no one i can really find that wants to say, i'm responsible. in fact, i will be surprised if i don't hear testimony today from people that say, you know, i'm not really responsible. it is time that somebody is responsible for money that is spent on roads that will not ever be sustained and for
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buildings and electrical power facilities that are built that no one there even knows how to use much less access the power that supposedly we are going to provide. it is time for someone to step forward and say, i'm responsible. i'm the one planning these projects. i'm the one that's certifying sustainability. the department of defense isn't certifying sustainability. we all know that the funds which originally -- i rep at -- remember at the beginning we talked about serc. it was supposed to be walking around money. it was supposed to be money used by various units that were on the ground in iraq to -- the example i was given, in one of my first armed services hearings, senator, this is if one of our commanders is on the ground and he knows there's a
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good guy that's really helping with the neighborhood, and that guy's window is broken, the commander can say, here's the money to fix the window. it's good will. we have gone from broken store windows to hundreds of millions of dollars in construction in cerp. no one has taken ownership of the responsibilities of a.i.g. and the department of defense that is now engaged in seriously large projects for construction. sustainability is going to be the key issue that we're going to talk about today and it is going to be something that i think is very important that we get our arms around. inadequate contracting and program management practices, once again we're going to cover that ground. contractors overseeing
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contractors and obviously transparency and insufficient contract personnel, another key problem we have not yet dealt with. are the corpses getting better training now? the contracting representatives within the unit? yes, they are. i congratulate general caldwell and others who have done better work on training. but we're still not where we need to be. poor coordination of interagency efforts. i don't think anyone will have a strong argument about that. there's a one-year turnover on a.i.d. right now, i know that's probably because it's difficult to get folks who wan to go to afghanistan for two or four years. but when we embrace a constant turnover like we have, we're going to have bad things happen. we're going to have problems that are going to occur because the beginning of the project is not going to have any idea what the end of the project looks like and vice versa. security challenges obviously
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remain a big problem. and i think that we're going to have to try to dig through all those problems today. i will tell you that if we do not get some strong, substantive answers, that every dime that's being spent in afghanistan on reconstruction is being spent wisely and being spent with the kind of oversight that we would expect if we were building a highway down the road in the united states of america. then i think it's time we focus on the mission where we are training security forces and we are working to provide stability against taliban and the kind of structure that we need to support going after al qaeda on the border of pakistan and afghanistan. perhaps it's time to shut down $17 billion worth of money going for reconstruction projects when our track record really stinks when it comes to reconstruction
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projects. now, i hope that you all are going to convince me i've become cynical and angry and frustrated about the way we're spending money in theater and i want to tell you i'm looking for good news. i hope we hear some today. but i think it is really time for a gut check. because i've got too many people in missouri saying, why can't we fix this road? then i look at the projects that we're building in afghanistan and it's hard to explain to them why we can't fix that road because we can't afford it, but yet we can throw money away in afghanistan on projects that are clearly not sustainable and if anybody would have spent time thinking about it in the first place, they would have realized that. that kind of planning has to begin happening and that kind of accountability has to be present. i'm pleased we have a number of witnesses today that are going to testify to contracting in theaters and let me say that this is -- good.
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senator courtman is here. i'll give him time to get settled. we'll continue the hearing and continue to provide oversight in this arena. i think that it is a place we need to draw the country's attention. i think we need to draw congress' attention and bring the attention of the department of defense and department of state to these problems and we need to begin to do one of two things. do it right or stop doing it. and i will turn it over to senator portman for his opening statement. >> thank you, madam chair. i appreciate you holding the hearing today. it's an incredibly important topic gip the resources we're devoting to afghanistan. i was there about a month or so ago, had the opportunity to meet not just with some of our brave soldiers and marines but also with some of the federal government agencies on site and the contractors. i know this subcommittee under
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your leadership has done some of the most diligent and searching oversight of afghan redevelopment over the last several years. i'm pleased to now join you as your ranking member. the hearing is especially timely as it comes on the heels of an announcement about the u.s. mission in afghan. the president announced his plan to withdraw the 30,000 surge troops. i've noted my concerns regarding some of the strategic objectives in afghanistan but what is clear is we are in a critical planning window with respect to military and civilian mission in afghanistan. today we have over 154,000 private contractors working for the defense department, state department, a.i.d. in afghanistan.
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154,000 contractors. the issue of effective and efficient use of contractors reaches a new urgency with the planned transition to afghan-led security. it's also a timely discussion given the fiscal problems and fiscal crisis at our doorstep. over the past nine and a half years, our military service men and women have done everything they've been asked to do and more in afghanistan. they performed remarkably well and again with bravery and extraordinary skill under some very tough conditions. given our reconstruction efforts, in afghanistan, which are incredibly important to the sustainability of this effort, we need to be sure what we're doing is right, be sure we're consolidating some of the hard-earned gains we have achieved. the counterinsurgency strategy was outlined by